POOH BEAR, POUND CAKE AND EZRA POUND
Sunday, I took an imaginary walk in the park. In reality, I was somewhere else, but as it was a sunny day, my mind kept wandering to the place where there are trees, a duck pond and an expanse of grass to sit upon. In my mind, I laid out a blanket, a thermos of tea, some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a slice of pound cake. Not long after, as I sat in the shade of a tall birch, glad for its dappled shade, Pooh Bear wandered by. I suspect the strawberry jam attracted him.
“Good afternoon,” he said, nestling himself beside the slice of pound cake that lay between us. “It’s a good day to be hungry, isn’t it?”
I agreed that it was and said nothing as his paw drifted toward the confection. He tore off a corner and popped it into his mouth. “I’ve been thinking about sticky words again,” he said with a full mouth. “I was wondering, are there many of them? Would they fill a tea cup or a cookie jar do you suppose?”
I told him I’d never considered the question, but if one were to include all the languages in the world, then I should think a bathtub would be insufficient.
“That’s good,” Pooh smiled. “Because I don’t much care for bathtubs…unless they’re filled with honey.” He took another square of cake while I took a third.
We sat together, ruminating.
“My friend Christopher Robin goes to school and he told me some experts believe that Eskimos have lots and lots of words to describe snow. Why do you think that is?”
“If it’s true,” I replied, “and some people don’t agree, I suppose it’s because Eskimos view snow differently than we do. It’s also been said that Zulus have a bazillion words for green.”
Pooh Bear looked surprised as he reached for the last corner of cake. “Really? I never think of Africa as being green. In fact, I seldom think of Africa at all. Is it very far?”
“A continent away,” I told him.
The little bear sighed. “So many continents. So many words. It’s all confusing.”
“True, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to know more about both? A writer could do worse than travel and study languages. Ezra Pound was a great poet and a student of languages. He sometimes used foreign words in his writing. Having a large life, he needed a large number of words. A single language couldn’t hold or describe all of his thoughts… Yes, now that I think of it, I agree with myself. A writer could do worse than travel and study languages.”
“All this talk about words and traveling has made me tired. It’s time for a nap.” Pooh Bear rose, bowed and disappeared into the shadows of the trees — but not before wishing me “Adieu.”
(Originally published 6/7/2010)